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My wife, Jan, was the first to notice I was
forgetting things. It was small things at
first, but when my memory lapses started
to impact on my work I knew something
was seriously wrong with me. That is
when I decided to see a specialist.
It took two months of brain scans and
cognitive tests before I was told I had
Alzheimer’s disease. When I received the
diagnosis I was angry, but not surprised.
I had considered all the different
possibilities, so in some ways I had
already prepared myself for this news.
I’m a big believer in being open and
talking about what I’m experiencing.
Being completely honest with Jan has
enabled her to support me. I often
wonder how I would have coped without
her! She’s helped so much by positively
reinforcing the things I can do, and
has taught me not to worry about the
things I can’t change.
My friends have all been fantastic, too.
After I told them about my diagnosis they
couldn’t do enough to help. I’ve always
been into jet boating and, thanks to their
support, I’ve managed to continue doing
When I told my colleagues they
immediately sprang into action to put
strategies in place to help me to continue
working. My employers engaged an
assistant for me, and there was
constant communication regarding
my needs and changing abilities.
I would advise anybody who
finds themselves in this position
not to try and hide their diagnosis,
but to be upfront with people and
tell them what is happening. In
doing so, I’ve been over whelmed
by the level of people’s kindness,
understanding and support.
Since my diagnosis, I have been
responsible for training Sara, my
assistance labrador. It’s been
a big commitment, but was all
worthwhile when she became the
youngest dog ever to pass at just
14 months old. She is such a great
support. She’ll find my keys, wallet
or phone if I’ve lost them. And she
keeps me calm if I get lost!
Now that I’m planning to retire,
I’ve signed up to become a Dementia
Advocate. My first commitment was
voicing a series of radio advertisements to
promote the National Dementia Helpline,
which I really enjoyed.
During my career I did lots of public
speaking, so in this new role I’d like to
start sharing my experiences at lectures
and conferences. It would be wonderful
to think after all the support I’ve
received that I might be able to use my
experiences to support others.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
WHEN PHIL HAZELL WAS DIAGNOSED WITH YOUNGER
ONSET DEMENTIA, HE FOUND THAT TELLING HIS FRIENDS,
FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES LED TO A WORLD OF SUPPORT.
I’M A BIG BELIEVER
IN BEING OPEN AND
TALKING ABOUT WHAT
QWhy did you become a
My husband, Bob, was
diagnosed with dementia in
2003. When Bob went into
residential care six years ago,
I thought about ways to use
what I have learned to help other
people. I signed up to become
a Dementia Advocate to share
my experiences, let others
know what to expect and raise
awareness about dementia.
QWhat is one thing all
carers need to hear?
Just as your loved one with
dementia is on a journey, you
are on a journey of your own.
Although you will do all you can
to give them what they need,
you also need to look after
yourself. A healthy carer is in
the best position to provide the
highest quality support.
QWhat would you say to
someone who wants to
be a Dementia Advocate?
More input from various
groups and individuals will
bring us closer to educating the
community and increasing their
understanding of dementia.
Public education is vital for
reducing stigma and for making
sure members of the public are
enabled to support people in
their own communities.
Dementia Advocates give a voice to people living with dementia and their carers. If
you would like to be a Dementia Advocate, contact Jo-Ann Brown or visit the
Alzheimer’s Australia website. T: (02) 8873 4636 | E: email@example.com |
13/03/2017 12:06 PM
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